Showing posts from March, 2017

2017 Bold Predictions: The New York Yankees edition

As we prepare for yet another season of Yankees baseball, I thought it would be pertinent to write my second annual bold predictions piece. First and foremost, it's hard to not look forward to the start of the 2017 season. Unlike in recent years, the Yankees are not an aging team comprised primarily of washed up veterans being paid money they are no longer earning. Granted, the Bombers do still have a few of those players left on the roster, but the story heading into 2017 is the youth movement. Bearing in mind the excitement felt by the fan base and my own personal feelings, I've compiled a list of 10 bold predictions for the 2017 team. Some may seem a bit more outlandish than others, but all are certainly possible.

I'd like to preface the substantive portion of my piece by stating that I do not truly believe all of my predictions will come to fruition. I have a much dimmer outlook for the 2017 New York Yankees. While the Baby Bombers will indeed be exciting to watch, the…

Yankees Opening Day roster updates

This Thursday, March 30, the Yankees made three big announcements pertaining to the 2017 opening day roster, thus settling most of the spring training competitions. Luis Severino has been named the fourth starter, while Aaron Judge has been announced as the opening day right fielder. Both of these decisions are steps forward in the right direction. The Yankees are counting on Severino and Judge to be big parts of their future moving forward. Now that both players have been given the opportunity to shine, the burden falls on them to showcase their talents for a sustained period at the major league level. The Bombers have also announced their opening day bullpen, which will consist of, Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, Tyler Clippard, Adam Warren, Tommy Layne, Jonathan Holder, Chasen Shreve, and Bryan Mitchell.

Photo Credit: Tony Gutierrez/AP

The World Baseball Classic was great, now let’s make it better.

Now that the World Baseball Classic has ended (USA!), I want to share how the tournament could be even better than it was. The 2017 WBC was the most attended, attracting more than a total of a million fans to the stadiums, but those numbers and TV ratings could skyrocket if the tournament, or at least part of it, was held in the summer. I consider myself a die-hard baseball fan and I found it hard to get into the games until the semifinal rounds and I barely watched the first two rounds. While I was watching the games and I continuously found myself thinking of ways to improve the tournament. My solution is the same as the one Joe Girardi talked about recently. He suggested that every four years Major League Baseball should start the regular season a few days earlier and have an extended all-star break that includes the semifinals and finals of the WBC. There would be a ton of advantages for everyone involved if the WBC championship rounds were moved to the middle of the summer.

Greg Bird wins Yankees' starting first base job

After a year-long hiatus, Bird is the word once again in New York. After missing the entire 2016 season due to injury, slugger Greg Bird has been named the Yankees starting first baseman for the 2017 season.

Photo Credit: AP / Matt Rourke

Projecting the Yankees Opening Day 25 Man Roster: Part 2 of 2: Pitching Staff

Yankees fans rejoice: We are now just 10 days away from Opening Day!  Part two of our Yankees Opening Day Roster Preview takes a look at the Yankees projected pitching staff they will carry out of Spring Training.  As mentioned in yesterday's post, the Yankees are expected to stock a pitching staff of 12 men; comprised of five starting pitchers and seven relievers. With only a few spots currently locked up, much is still to be determined. Let's take a look at who you can expect to see with the Yankees in Tampa Bay on April 2nd. 

Projecting the Yankees Opening Day 25-man roster: Position Players

As Spring Training is coming to a close, it's about that time where the Yankees initial 25-man roster begins to come into focus.  The Yankees project to go with a similar roster construction that they have the past few years, that being with 13 position players and 12 pitchers.  This format allows for a four man bench and a seven man bullpen. In my first of a two part preview piece, let's go position by position to see who we can expect to break camp with the Yankees on April 2nd when they kick off their 2017 season against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Yankees showing interested in Arizona shortstop Nick Ahmed

With Didi Gregorius set to miss the first month of the Yankees season with a shoulder injury, the Yankees starting shortstop on Opening Day is suddenly open for competition. While it has been reported that the Yankees are going consider internal options first, it also makes sense that Brian Cashman would look at the availability of shortstops on the trade market. As Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports, the Yankees have recently shown interest in defensive stud Nick Ahmed.

Pinstripe Preview: Mason Williams

Many reading this are somewhat familiar with Mason Williams. He appeared in just eight games in the 2015 season in which he hit .286 before he suffered a shoulder injury. In 2016, he was called up when the roster expanded and appeared in twelve games. Williams is an outfielder who’s spot on the team is questionable after the injuries he suffered the past two years and the top prospects the Yankees acquired at the trade deadline last season.

Didi Gregorius injury fallout

Cue the World Baseball Classic haters. It seems they may have a case, at least in regards to player injuries. Rising star shortstop Didi Gregorius has just left his team, the Netherlands, to return to the Yankees facility in Tampa, Florida for further testing on a right shoulder injury. When or how he suffered the injury seems to be unknown. The preliminary MRI show "hematoma of the subscapular muscle," a swelling and bruising in a muscle in the lower part of the shoulder blade. I’m no doctor, so naturally I have no idea of the severity of those results, but this is certainly terrible news. No injuries are welcome, but shoulder injuries are extremely alarming, especially when it is the throwing shoulder (which it is).

Photo via Getty Images

Pinstripe Preview: Adam Warren

During his tenure in pinstripes, Adam Warren has proven himself to be quite versatile. Due to his experience in middle relief, long relief, and as a starter, the Yankees can feel confident placing Warren in a number of roles. Warren struggled profoundly after being dealt to the Chicago Cubs last offseason in the deal that brought Starlin Castro to the Bronx. His stint with the Cubs, however, would be short lived. After returning to the Bronx last July as part of the Aroldis Chapman trade, Warren seamlessly slid into the seventh inning role. This spring training, Warren is in the mix for one of two open rotation spots. Warren's versatility will likely hurt him in this competition. This season, Warren will probably work in middle relief, bridging the gap between the shaky rotation and the trio at the backend of the bullpen, which consists of Tyler Clippard, Dellin Betances, and Chapman.

Photo Credit: J. Conrad Williams Jr./Newsday 

Pinstripe Preview: Ronald Torreyes

After bouncing around in trades from many teams beginning in 2015, Ronald Torreyes, nicknamed “Toe” by Joe Girardi, seems to have found a home as a solid bench bat and utility man for the Yankees. Here’s a list of the trades:
May 2015: Purchased by the Blue Jays from the Astros June 2015: Purchased by the Dodgers from the Blue Jays January 2016: Traded from the Dodgers to the Yankees in exchange for Rob Segedin January 2016 (2 weeks later): Claimed on waivers by the Angels from the Yankees February 2016 (6 days later): Claimed on waivers by the Yankees from the Angels
Not gonna lie, that must have sucked. However, after making the Opening Day team, Torreyes (somehow) survived the entire regular season on the Yankees’ 25-man roster, and made himself known as a very useful player.

Pinstripe Preview: Masahiro Tanaka

Entering his fourth major league season with the New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka will once again be the unquestioned ace of a Yankees pitching staff full of question marks in 2017.Tanaka has looked every bit the part so far this spring, pitching to a perfect 0.00 ERA over 13.1 innings across four starts.Tanaka has also struck out 19 batters, walked just two, and allowed only three hits. He also anchored a combined no-hitter yesterday (March 17) against Detroit with lefties Chasen Shreve and Jordan Montgomery. For a Yankees starting rotation that will roll out Michael Pineda, CC Sabathia, and then two of Luis Severino/Bryan Mitchell/Adam Warren/Chad Green/Luis Cessa this season, Tanaka's performance will be crucial to the Yankees success.

An update on the Yankees WBC participants

The second round of the World Baseball Classic got underway this past weekend with teams from the Netherlands and Japan already securing spots in the championship round. The other two remaining spots will be decided by the end of this week, with teams from the United States, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico vying for those two spots. The Yankees have been well represented in this tournament, with six players and two coaches representing their respective countries. With this edition of the WBC just over half over, I’m here with an update on how the Yankees throughout the tournament are doing.

Photo Credit: Koji Sasahara/Associated Press

Pinstripe Preview: Chasen Shreve

Entering the 2017 season, the Yankees will boast a solid bullpen staff that has the potential to be one of the best in the league. One of the players who could help make them elite is Chasen Shreve. The 26-year-old southpaw is entering his third season in pinstripes, and hopes for the type of consistency that has eluded him early in his career. Yankees management, as well as the fans, hope this is the year he finally puts it all together.

Pinstripe Preview: Luis Severino

Coming off of a trying season in which he did not meet expectations, Luis Severino should still be considered one of the Yankees' top prospects (though for statistical purposes he can no longer be considered a prospect) entering the 2017 season. Despite maintaining his top "prospect" status, Severino will have slightly different expectations entering this year’s campaign. Severino is one of several Yankee pitchers engaged in a battle for two spots in the starting rotation, but even if he does earn one of those spots he will then have to prove that he can be a reliable major league starter, something that has proved elusive to Severino in his major league career thus far.

Photo Credit: Kim Klement/USA Today Sports

Pinstripe Preview: Gary Sanchez

When you think about the Yankees youth movement, there’s no doubt that Gary Sanchez is one of the first names that comes to mind. While fans should be excited to see players like Aaron Judge, Tyler Austin, Clint Frazier, and even Jorge Mateo at the big leagues this year, everyone is looking forward to seeing what Sanchez can do in his first season as the Yankee catcher. After the Yankees traded Brian McCann to the Astros this winter making Sanchez the full time starting catcher, there is no doubt that the 24-year-old will look to build on his historic rookie season.

Pinstripe Preview: CC Sabathia

CC Sabathia is entering his final year of the nine-year, $202 million contract he signed with the Yankees prior to the 2009 season. He will be 37-years-old in July and his future is uncertain after the 2017 campaign. He has struggled in recent years while battling injuries, resulting in multiple surgeries, and an alcohol rehab stint in 2015. As I mentioned in a previous article about Sabathia’s future in Major League Baseball (which you can find here), he added a cutter to his arsenal in 2016 with the help of Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera.

Pinstripe Preview: Austin Romine

The 2017 MLB season will be the sixth in the career of Austin Romine. The Yankee backup catcher from last season entered spring training this season with an inside track on the job that he filled adequately last year but with some young guns performing well within the Yankees’ minor league system, it may not be long before we question how secure his spot on this team is.

Pinstripe Preview: Rob Refsnyder

Once viewed as one of the organization's top prospects, Yankees 1B/2B/OFRob Refsnyder has seemingly become a forgotten man over the last year.After being drafted in the 5th round of the amateur player draft in 2012 out of Arizona, Refsnyder quickly rose through the ranks of the then-depleted Yankees farm system.His best tool has always been his hitting ability, however, he missed out on a golden opportunity to carve out his role on the 2015 team because of his lackluster fielding.That Yankees squad was running out Stephen Drew every day and was begging for an upgrade – one that Refsnyder could not follow through on.

For the Yankees, Clint Frazier’s haircut is counterproductive

As many Yankees fans will know by now, Clint Frazier was forced to cut his hair this past Friday. According to Joe Girardi, Frazier’s hair did not violate the team policy of nothing below the shoulders, but it was “distracting.” Frazier later tweeted this: one goal - to be the best baseball player i can be. happy to be a yankee & play for this organization & honored to donate to Locks of Love 🦁 — Clint Frazier (@clintfrazier) March 10, 2017
…of which, of course he did. Twitter was blowing up at the time, and it would not have been a good idea for Frazier to say anything else. However, I have a few thoughts on this whole debate.

Pinstripe Preview: Yefrey Ramirez

Like many of you reading this piece, I knew little about Yefrey Ramirez before writing this brief profile on him. For this reason alone, I strongly encourage you to keep reading and learn a little bit about a player many of you did not know was on the Yankees 40-man roster. Ramirez is a converted infielder, and current minor league starting pitcher who has flown under the radar since his arrival to the Yankees organization following the 2015 season as a minor league Rule-5 draft pick. Progressing from a minor league Rule-5 draft pick to earning a spot on the New York Yankees 40-man roster is no easy feat so it's worth exploring how he Ramirez was able to do so.

Photo Credit: Mark LoMoglio/Tampa Yankees

BBB 2017 Top Prospect Countdown #1: Gleyber Torres

Topping off our top prospect countdown coming in at number one on the list by no surprise is shortstop phenom Gleyber Torres. After being acquired from the Chicago Cubs in the Aroldis Chapman trade at the 2016 deadline, Torres has seen his prospect status skyrocket from the arguable top prospect in the Yankees organization, to the arguable top prospect in all of baseball. Despite turning 20 just a few months ago, Torres is ranked at number three on MLB Pipeline’s top prospect list, and with two Major League ready talents ahead of him, it’s only a matter of time before Andrew Benintendi and Yoan Moncada graduate off the list, propelling Torres to the top prospect in all of baseball.

Pinstripe Preview: Bryan Mitchell

Bryan Mitchell, still just 25 years of age, is coming off a forgettable 2016 season and will look to overtake several other arms to earn a starting rotation spot or possibly a long-relief role in the bullpen.

Photo Credit: Noah K. Murray/ USA Today Sports

BBB 2017 Top Prospect Countdown #2: Clint Frazier

Coming in at number two on our 2017 Top Prospect Countdown is Clint Frazier. Ever since his arrival to the Yankees organization last August, Frazier has been exciting to keep up with, both on and off the field. The young outfielder will likely be the successor to Brett Gardner in left field. It's doubtful that he'll make it to the majors this year, but Frazier will bring both his talent, and enthusiasm to the Bronx sooner rather than later. If there's any player within the Yankees farm system who is made for the bright lights of New York, it's Frazier. Trading away Andrew Miller was tough, but if Frazier pans out the way he is projected to, the Yankees could possibly have a perennial All-Star in the making manning left field for years to come.

Photo Credit: Ken Inness/ 

Pinstripe Preview: Michael Pineda

Perhaps no Yankee is as frustrating as the 28-year old Michael Pineda. Ever since his highly anticipated arrival to the Bronx in 2012, Pineda has been a colossal letdown. Despite occasional flashes of brilliance, Pineda has consistently failed to put it together. Many talent evaluators around the league will agree that the right hander has some of the best "stuff," in the league; however, that has not translated into major league success. With free agency around the corner for Pineda, the Yankees can only hope he is motivated to cash in big next offseason. If Pineda can finally figure it out this season, and revert back to his 2011 Mariners form, he, along with Masahiro Tanaka, will constitute a formidable 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation. Suffice it say, expecting Pineda to miraculously turn it around is a bit naive, but the Bombers can only hope for the best.

Photo Credit: John Raoux/AP

BBB 2017 Top Prospect Countdown #3: Blake Rutherford

Blake Rutherford is a 19-year-old, left hand hitting outfielder selected in the 2016 MLB amateur draft. The Yankees selected Rutherford with the 18th overall pick in the first round. Rutherford was born in New Jersey, but moved to Southern California at the age of two and attended Chaminade College Preparatory School in Simi Valley. Senior year Rutherford batted .577 and clubbed nine homeruns, in only 27 games. He was invited to play in the Under Armour All American game in 2015 and also competed with the USA 18 and under team. His time with the USA team includes winning a gold medal in Japan.

Pinstripe Preview: Tommy Layne

Every year at Spring Training, mixed in with the buzz about young and talented prospects and the reappearance of veterans and familiar faces, there are always a few players who fall right in the middle. One of the players to fall into that category this year is left handed pitcher Tommy Layne. Layne is entering the sixth season of his major league career and he hasn’t quite reached journeyman status yet, but he definitely seems like that type of player. He broke in with the San Diego Padres in 2012 as a 27-year-old and made a stop in Boston before signing with the Yankees in August of 2016. For his career, Layne has pitched in 197 games, posting a 3.23 ERA in 136.2 innings while allowing just 111 hits. Layne is a reliever by trade and although the Yankees have seen the recent emergence of several highly touted relief pitching prospects, the role of lefty specialist still seems to be very much up for grabs on this year’s club.

BBB 2017 Top Prospect Countdown #4: Jorge Mateo

Although ranked Aaron Judge a few spots ahead of Jorge Mateo on their top-100 prospect list, we have it the other way around. The 21-year old middle infielder has eye popping raw ability. He did slip just a bit on the prospects top-100 list from 2016 to now, but be ready for a monster campaign where he ends up significantly higher heading into the 2018 season.

Pinstripe Preview: Jorge Mateo

Jorge Mateo is a 21 year-old shortstop from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The Yankees signed Mateo as an international free agent in 2012. Mateo is a speedster who led all minor leaguers in stolen bases in 2015 with 82. Mateo was ranked the Yankees #3 prospect after the 2014 season and the #1 prospect after the 2015 season. He was considered the #26 prospect in all of baseball following the 2015 season.

Photo Credit: Charles Wenzelberg/ NY Post

BBB 2017 Top Prospect Countdown #5: Aaron Judge

The Baby Bombers got a taste of the big leagues last year, most notably Gary Sanchez took the league by storm. Another Baby Bomber to make their Major League debut was big man Aaron Judge, who infamously went back to back with Tyler Austin in their debut. Judge has come into Spring Training looking to lock up the starting right field job, but will be competing with Aaron Hicks in the process.

Pinstripe Preview: Aaron Judge

One thing comes to mind when you think of Aaron Judge: raw power. At 6’7” and 230 pounds, he is one of the largest players in Major League Baseball and draws comparison to Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins. Judge was drafted by the Yankees 32nd overall in 2013, and has become a highly touted prospect in the Yankees’ farm system. Yankee fans have continuously heard about Judge’s size and power over the past couple of years and they finally got a glimpse of it in 2016.

BBB 2017 Top Prospect Countdown #6: Justus Sheffield

When the Yankees traded star reliever Andrew Miller to the Cleveland Indians prior to last year's trade deadline, they received quite a prospect package in return. While outfielder Clint Frazier has generated a considerable amount of excitement, 20-year old left hander Justus Sheffield has the potential to be the steal of this deal for the Bombers. It is an indisputable, and aggravating, fact that the Yankees have not developed an above average starting pitcher since the turn of the decade. Sheffield might end up being that guy for the Bombers. The 2014 first round draft pick has an impressive pitch arsenal. Sheffield may be a few years away from sniffing the majors; however, 2017 will still be a big year for the young left hander. As he enters his first full season with the Yankees organization, Sheffield will hope translate his raw talent into dominant numbers in the minors.

Pinstripe Preview: Matt Holliday

Coming into the offseason, the DH role was a major question mark heading into 2017. The Yankees had been linked to big free agents like Edwin Encarnacion, but they ended up singing veteran Matt Holliday to a one-year, $13-million deal. Holliday, 37, fit into the Yankees plans to compete now, while also rebuilding. While Holliday has battled injuries over the past couple of seasons, he appears to man the designated hitter role this season, and I expect him to hit cleanup providing young star Gary Sanchez some valuable protection in the lineup.

BBB 2017 Top Prospect Countdown #7: James Kaprielian

James Kaprielian is a 23-year-old right-handed pitcher. The Yankees selected Kaprielian with the 15th overall pick of the 2015 MLB Amateur Draft. He starred at UCLA, where he was part of the first ever UCLA no-hitter. Kaprielian played high school baseball in Laguna Hills, California for Arnold O. Berkman High School. His high school stats included a 33-3 record and a 0.96 ERA. The Yankees viewed Kaprielian as a safe pick, projecting him as a “no doubt” middle of the rotation starter.

What if- the Yankees edition

A few weeks back, fellow BBB writer Andrew Natalizio wrote an awesome piece (that you should check out if you haven’t yet) that really got me excited for baseball season to start. It made me think about why I love baseball and sports in general.It may seem silly, but sports give me hope. A sport, unlike real life, allows for a release from your everyday struggles. Every year begins new and any previous mistakes or missteps are erased. A lot of the time, the excitement and hope in the off-season is even better than the end result. Similar to hitting the lotto, all the fun comes in daydreaming about the what if’s that could come. So like a guy who just bought his three-dollar Powerball ticket, lets fantasize about the New York Yankees 2017 what if’s.

Photo Credit: Brad Penner/USA Today Sports

Pinstripe Preview: Jonathan Holder

Lost among the bounty of high-profile prospects in the Yankees organization lies one 23-year-old flamethrower who is likely to impact the 2017 Yankees in a bigger way than the Gleyber Torres' and Clint Fraziers.
Photo Credit: L.E. Miller/ New York Daily News

BBB 2017 Top Prospect Countdown #8: Chance Adams

After being drafted in the fifth round by the New York Yankees out of Dallas Baptist University, the Yankees may not have expected right-hander Chance Adams to develop into the pitcher he has become. Coming out of high school, Adams has always been a player that has flown under the radar. After spending two seasons at Yavapai Community College in Arizona, Adams transferred to Dallas Baptist, where he was a star out of the bullpen pitching to a 1.98 ERA. Initially drafted as that shut-down reliever, Adams has evolved his stuff into that of a starting pitcher, and his ease into this new role is what is causing him to skyrocket across prospect boards.

Pinstripe Preview: Kyle Higashioka

As a 26 year old minor leaguer, Kyle Higashioka had to put up a very good season in 2016 to get any kind of attention and he most certainly did that as he earned a 40-man roster spot during the offseason. While never really considered a top prospect, Higashioka has always had some upside. Sometimes all it takes is one breakout season to get yourself on the map.
Photo Credit: Baseball America

BBB 2017 Top Prospect Countdown #9: Domingo Acevedo

As we get deeper and deeper into our organizational rankings, we get to guys who have the best chance at being something special. When you can hit 103 on a radar gun like Domingo Acevedo can, that screams special. We could be seeing this 22-year old a lot sooner than we expect.
Photo Credit: Mark LoMoglio/Tampa Yankees

BBB 2017 Top Prospect Countdown #10: Miguel Andujar

After having another strong season in 2016, Miguel Andujar was added to the 40 man roster this past winter to protect him from the Rule 5 draft and for good reason too. With Chase Headley manning third base at the moment we might have to wait a while to see Andujar in the Majors, but at this rate it will be sooner rather than later.

Photo Credit: Travis Guyton

Pinstripe Preview: Aaron Hicks

After criticism from just about every Yankee fan out there, Aaron Hicks will look to bounce back from an atrocious and disappointing 2016 season. Hicks will be crucial to providing depth to the Yankees roster. Here's a look at the 2016 season in review and previewing what to look for in his 2017 season:
Photo Credit: Kim Klement/ USA Today Sports

Pinstripe Preview: Ronald Herrera

In one of Brian Cashman's lesser known moves prior to the 2016 season, the Yankees' General Manager traded second base prospect Jose Pirela to the San Diego Padres for young minor league pitcher Ronald Herrera.

Photo Credit: Trenton Thunder Media Relations

BBB 2017 Top Prospect Countdown #11: Dustin Fowler

Dustin Fowler is a 22 year-old left handed outfielder. The Yankees drafted him in the 18th round of the 2013 MLB amateur draft. Fowler is from Dexter, Georgia; where he starred at West Laurens High School. The Yankees selected Fowler based on his superior defense and base running.